Friday, March 17, 2006

The Death of bicycle bob

by Nick
This happened like a week ago, but it's still worth mentioning.

How many of us read The Hot Blog? As I've no doubt mentioned before, I really respect Poland, even though from time to time his role as holier-than-thou ombudsman of film journalism gets a bit rich, none the less, the man can dredge through a lot bullshit that would be impossible to comprehend otherwise.

I was happy when Poland decided to start blogging - even if it seemed to be in response to Wells' newly formed Hollywood Elsewhere - since maybe that'd give him some more freedom and leeway to his opinions, like in the good old days of Roughcut. The Hot Button sometimes got a bit long-winded for my tastes. After a while some commenters started to show up, and after some initial missteps it looked like this could actually become the hub of serious online discussion of movie politics that Wells failed to build up on our own former forum.

One of those commenters was bicycle bob. Now, there was something that I initially found quite endearing about bicycle bob. Not just the username (genius), but the fact that he made ignorance a point of pride. bob would throw out short little platitudes, always written without caps, and whenever these were confronted, he would counter with unfounded ad hominem attacks. bicycle bob was the ultimate caricature of the hillbilly Republican.

But even though bob was amusing, The Hot Blog was still supposed to be about the serious discussion, and there were guys there who had some interesting opinions - people like Stella's Boy (critic Paul Doro), Joe Leydon (sometime film professor), Lota and Poland himself. Sometimes guys like Drew McWeeny dropped by, usually to defend themselves. Problem was that bicycle bob kept dropping in, and most sane people found it impossible to let his outrageous statements go unquestioned. And what I initially took as caricature, was in fact honest-to-god opinion. An even bigger problem was that bob was gaining supporters.

Even before blustealer, Bruce and joefitz84 came into the picture, there were suspicions - or just outright belief - that Mark (Ziegler) was another of bicycle bobs aliases. Rare was the time they disagreed, especially with Poland, and frequent the similarity in opinion, and spelling mistakes. This came to be one the 'tells'; the shared spelling mistakes. But the shit really hit the fan when the user named Chester began a personal campaign to oust bob and his (supposed) aliases. It could also be, perhaps rightfully, claimed that Chester was out to ridicule Poland.

I won't go into the twists and turns of the Chester debacle, or whether or not he really was Jeff Wells, but it all culminated around mid-august. Shortly after that, Chester went away. Don't know whether it was his own volition or not.

But bicycle bob and his ilk still hung around, and after a while people started giving up. Stella's Boy started posting less frequently, and even Joe Leydon went away after that. bicycle bob found new targets, such as jeffmcm and whenever I would drop by I'd feel a bit sad. I even tried to help out, appealing to Poland directly, even though that wasn't much appreciated by him. He told me to e-mail him, and I felt a bit dumbfounded. If he didn't read the comments we wrote on his site, what chance was there of him taking an e-mail seriously? So I gave up.

Then suddenly this week I dropped by, after having left it alone for weeks, and saw a post called Internal Blog Business. I don't know what finally got Poland to do what he should have done a long time ago, but whatever it was, god bless. bicycle bob was outed. Towards the end there he was using over 15 aliases (although the real figure was probably closer to 20).

Was Poland as ignorant of the identity abuse as he wants to give off? I doubt it. And why did he condone it? Anyone's guess. The more important question though is - what does this mean for The Hot Blog? Who knows. But maybe now some great discussions can start taking place. There are some pretty intelligent, or at least opinionated, people there. I look forward to reading what they have to say.


Blogger Jackrabbit Slim said...

I really can't get into the Hot Blog comments. Too much sniping back and forth, and the arguments degenerated into pissing matches. That's why I found the HE forums so refreshing.

3/17/2006 06:59:00 AM  
Blogger jaydro said...

I gave up on reading the comments there. Hey, wasn't Wells saying he was going to add comments to his Wired blog column several weeks ago? Last I noticed, it hadn't happened.

3/17/2006 08:01:00 AM  

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